The Joys of Being Ai Weiwei

News of late of end of Ai Weiwei’s probation, and thus release from non confinement, which means that he is free (not exactly) to do as he likes (certainly not), unless that involves leaving the country (for instance to appear at his “Ai Weiwei: According to What?” retrospective).

Official documentation of such a momentous not-so-entire event is dropped to the ground in this photograph:

My thought is what a joy it must be to be an artist who can say so much by merely dropping a piece of paper to the ground and photographing it. The “series,” like his nude series, middle finger series, and others, plugs in to a repertoire of political performance art that seems so effortlessly meaningful.

This particular series (dropping) has been my favorite for its clever and so to-the-point exploration of value in contemporary Chinese setting, something which is also key to Ai’s legal troubles in terms of tax evasion. What, in other words, is the worth of a given Ai Weiwei artwork, who is decide, and what is to become of the fetishized object itself? One way of looking at contemporary Chinese experience, in fact, is a massive shift in value (UP) of a wide array of material objects, among them, and to return to the beginning of the series, antique Chinese art:


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